Ochs Ranch Easement, Colorado
Haven to an at-risk population of Gunnison sage grouse, Colorado's Ochs Ranch is the site of an innovative partnership between the Federal government, the State of Colorado, and local conservation organizations.
Called "sage chickens" by many locals, these bantamsized birds are commonly noted for their flamboyant mating practices with males puffing up big air sacks on their necks and emitting loud booming calls while strutting for potential mates.
The goal of this collaborative partnership is to protect through permanent easement approximately 2,766 acres of important Gunnison sage grouse habitat along the Ohio Creek in Gunnison County, Colorado. The partnership purchased the Ochs Ranch and enabled eight neighboring ranch families to work the land in exchange for easements on their ranches or for cash, leading to the protection of approximately 4,500 acres. This project serves as a model that demonstrates the compatibility of habitat conservation and productive agricultural activities. The bird has been listed as a candidate for Federal threatened or endangered status.